Around 40% detainees at an immigration detention facility in Imperial Valley, California run by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement are Indians, reported the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday.

United States immigration officials and attorneys said in recent years there has been an increase in Indian nationals crossing into America through Mexico, trekking across Latin America and travelling through routes forged by South American immigrants.

According to the US Customs and Border Protection, Indian detainees have cited an increase in political and religious persecution as reasons for seeking asylum.

At a federal prison in California’s Victorville, about 380 of the 680 migrants were Indians, the report said. Nearly 20% of detainees at Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Adelanto processing centre are Indian.

In this fiscal year (October 2017 to September 2018), border patrol agents have arrested 4,197 Indian nationals, according to data from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. From fiscal years 2012 to 2017, about 42% of asylum cases from India were rejected, according to Clearinghouse records.

A representative of the Indian nationals detained at the Victorville facility told Democrat Representative Mark Takano that they were supporters of two different political parties and had been allegedly persecuted by the ruling party in India – the Bharatiya Janata Party, the report claimed.

“They said they were often bullied into doing things that were immoral,” Takano told the Los Angeles Times. “They would have to carry drugs, perpetrate violence against others.”

A Human Rights Watch report published this year said: “Mob attacks by extremist Hindu groups affiliated with the ruling BJP against minority communities, especially Muslims, continued throughout the year amid rumours that they sold, bought, or killed cows for beef.” The report claimed that police filed complaints against victims under laws banning cow slaughter instead of taking action against the attackers.